Anchoring On Frederica River, South of Golden Isles Marina
Lanier Island, on the Frederica River, has a designated anchorage area south of the fixed Frederica River bridge (9′ vertical clearance) and Golden Isles Marina. Currents are typical for this area (1-2 kts) as are the tides (about 8 feet). The holding is reported to be spotty, however our CQR dug in on the first try and has held through three tide changes. Wind protection is minimal, with a marshy spit to the west, open water north and south, and St Simons Island to the east but not close. Again, in unsettled weather, protection from wave action isn’t good. There is some wake from SeaTow boats, the Brunswick pilot boats, and larger power boats heading to the marina. Depths vary with the distance from shore. However, charts show the remains of pilings and we found one float, from a crab trap, that was just below the surface at high tide. Finally, although charts show a designated anchorage area, not setting an anchor light is simply asking for a rude surprise in the middle of the night.
We looked at the anchorage area a mile or two above the bridge. There’s a little more shelter from northerly and southerly wave action, but it can only be reached by following the river south or taking the narrrow cut north of Lanier Island.
Options ashore are limited. We called Golden Isles Marina and were politely told they don’t rent bicycles and the ones they have are for customers only – no surprise, really. The nearest source for a bicycle is 2 miles away, on St. Simons Island, and they don’t deliver bikes. We did find a dock, just above the bridge and on the St Simons Island shore, where it’s possible to tie up a dinghy and go ashore. Be careful of the fishing lines from people fishing from the pier! According to the park signs, overnight tie-ups are not allowed and tie-ups are limited to two hours when permitted. We walked ashore and found there are no obvious paths to follow into a town. The one map we have of the area shows only one road from the bridge or park and that’s busy road with no sidewalk. The only way to see the area, then, is to rent a car.
In short, the anchorage is good as a stopover, in settled weather, before making the final push, inside or outside, to Fernandina, FL. It doesn’t have much to recommend it as a place to stop and see the area. (As an aside, our plotted routes to Fernandina, inside and out, match within less than a mile. The choice comes down to the weather and preference for seeing Jekyll and Cumberland Islands or pressing on to Fernandina.)
Lanier Island isn’t a good place to be in bad weather, but it is a very good stopover point and, as such, should be listed. There were 4-5 other boats anchored there when we were there.
After extensive search with a depth finder, I could not find the charted submerged pilings. This confirms local knowledge that they dated from WW2 and have not been in existance since the ICW was moved from the East side of Lanier Island to the West side some time in the 50’s. Holding is spotty and the depths are less than charted toward shore. Also, about half of the designated area is occupird by a private marina (not Golden Isles which is North of the private marina). All this said, it is a useful anchorage in appropiate weather.